June 3 ~  Think You Can West By West

"Confidence is a lot of this game or any game. If you don't think you can, you won't." ~ Jerry West

jerry west

National Basketball Association (NBA) Hall of Famer Jerry Alan West (1938-) was born in Cabin Creek, West Virginia, nestled in the Upper Kanawha Valley, the fifth of six children of a coal-mine electrician.

"You can't get much done in life, if you only work on the days when you feel good," said West, who first played basketball in junior high.

West called himself growing up as "painfully shy and almost backward," and said, “nobody liked to do anything I liked to do.” So, he turned to the solitude and magic of basketball.

The self-described perfectionist was the unanimous 1st Team All-American 1959 and 1960 and co-captain of the 1960 U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning team.

The 6-2 guard joined the Lakers in 1961. Known for his lightning-quick release, dribbling skill, and excellence under pressure, he was nicknamed "Mr. Clutch." In 1970, he made a crucial 60-foot shot in a championship game to send the game into overtime.

"I really don't like that name," he said. "I've had some bad games, too, and when I do, when I miss the winning shot or something, people can use it to make fun of me."

Considered one of the greatest guards in NBA history, West was named an all-star for every one of his 14 seasons with the Lakers, scoring 25,192 points and 6,238 assists. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1979, his silhouette serves as the NBA's logo.

After he retired from playing, West coached the Lakers to three straight playoff berths, then took over as general manager and helped to build the Lakers dynasty of the 1980s.

"Basketball came to me and for some reason it gave me an opportunity to live a life that I didn’t dream possible," he said. "But it did let me live my dreams."

Celebrate LifeJust think you can and you will.